A Guide to Children’s Cavities

Cavities are painful and often lead to more serious problems with your teeth and gums. In this article, you will find out about which foods and poor hygiene habits cause cavities. You will also learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of cavities, so if you do get one, you can get it treated as quickly as possible. Then you’ll discover the methods for prevention and treatment of cavities, allowing you to keep your teeth healthy and beautiful.


Cavities are caused by bacteria that live in your mouth. These bacteria release acid when they eat the food left behind on your teeth and gums. This acid burns holes through the white coating on the outside of your teeth. This white layer, called enamel, protects your teeth. The harmful bacteria in your mouth love to eat sugar. Sugar is found in many popular foods and drinks, such as soda, candy bars, ice cream, donuts, juice, cake, and many other sweet snacks and desserts. The bacteria that cause cavities can also feed on bits of other carbohydrates that get stuck in your teeth. These starchy foods include potato chips, pasta, rice, and bread. This combination of food and bacteria form plaque and tartar, which damage your teeth and lead to cavities. Smoking cigarettes also raises the risk of cavities.

Signs and Symptoms

You don’t want to get cavities, but if you do ever get one, make sure you know the signs and symptoms so you can quickly go to a dentist. White spots often appear on teeth as plaque and tartar begin to build up. A small cavity can be seen as a light brown spot on a tooth. Sometimes a hole or dent will be visible in one or more teeth. A cavity may also cause your teeth to hurt. One of the most common times to feel aching, tingling or other pain is after eating something sweet. Cavities can also make your teeth sensitive to hot and cold beverages. If you have any of these symptoms, tell your parents so they can take you to the dentist.


The best thing to do is not wait for signs of cavities to appear. Instead, follow some simple rules that will keep them from forming on your teeth. First, you must brush your teeth twice a day. The best times to brush are after breakfast and dinner. Brushing quickly is not enough. You should make sure that you brush the front, bottom and back of each tooth. After brushing, floss to remove pieces of food that can get stuck between your teeth or in your gums. Slide the dental floss straight down between each pair of teeth and pull straight back up.

Fluoride is a key part of preventing cavities. Your toothpaste should contain fluoride, but if your dentist thinks you aren’t getting enough, he might give you a gel that will add more fluoride to your teeth. Your dentist will also use special tools to remove plaque and tartar from your teeth. Another vital part of preventing cavities is to eat foods that are healthy for your teeth and avoid the ones that aren’t. Eat carrots, celery and other crunchy vegetables to help clean and strengthen your teeth. Stay away from chewy candy, lollipops and soda.


Even if you take good care of your teeth, you might get a cavity. If that happens, there are a few ways your dentist can help you. Dentists can fill in a cavity with with a durable material such as gold or porcelain. If the cavity is too severe to fill in, your dentist may recommend a crown. The rotting part of your tooth will be removed, and the rest will be covered with a cap. If the cavity is so bad that the nerve in the tooth has died, you might even need to get a root canal. A root canal means your dentist will remove the center of the decaying tooth as well as the nerve and the blood vessels beneath it.


Cavities can bring you a lot of pain and extra trips to the dentist. They can also lead to serious infections that will cause you to lose some of your teeth, leading to embarrassment each time you smile. But you can avoid these problems simply by following the tips in this article, including avoiding sugar and brushing after every meal.


Dr. Gerald O'Connor B.D.S., N.U.I. (hons) (Principal Dentist & Owner)

Dr Gerald O’Connor qualified with honours from University College Cork in 1998, where he achieved his Bachelor of Dental Surgery degree and was awarded the Kerr Prize for Restorative Dentistry. Following his qualification, he spent 6 years gaining experience in a dental clinic in Essex before buying his own practice in 2004. Dr O’Connor quickly added a second location in 2006 and formed the Oak Dental Group.

After returning to Ireland in 2013, he set up Killiney Dental with his long-time partner Rosemarie. Gerald has a wealth of experience in dentistry with a vested interest in modern, evidence-based solutions. He enjoys implementing new dental treatments that are minimally invasive for patients without compromising their desire for an idealised smile. Dr O’Connor currently serves on the Irish Dental Association’s Quality and Patient Safety Committee. In his spare time, he enjoys films, music, fiction writing and being anywhere in sight of the sea.